The Glory of the Sequel by Samantha Durante
Sequels have a bad rap… particularly if they’re part two of a trilogy. They’re known for being boring, slow, “filler” between an explosive beginning and the glorious climax of the end. Not to mention there are the expectations to live up to, the high hopes of readers who loved the first book and waited eagerly for the second – only, more often than not, to be let down.
For all of these reasons, a part of me was dreading writing Shudder, the sequel to Stitch and part two of the Stitch Trilogy. After all, Stitch was my first book – a grand new adventure – so I didn’t know what to expect when writing the next one. And from what I could gather, it seemed like a lot of great authors really didn’t relish the experience of writing “Book 2.”
So I put off developing the plot for a few months while marketing Stitch, and that gave plenty of time for worries to swarm my head. Would I be able to innovate enough to shock readers again after the huge twist in Stitch? Could I come up with a storyline that was more than “filler” between Books 1 and 3? Would I still be as enthusiastic about the world I’d created in this series to bring the same excitement to my work?
And it wasn’t until I finally took the plunge and started writing again that I discovered the answer to these questions: a resounding yes, yes, and YES. Whew! That was a relief.
You see, the thing I’ve decided I love about writing a sequel is that so MUCH of the work is done already – now I just get to play. In Book 1, the world was built – so now I just have to fill in all the fun little details that make it real. The characters came to life in the previous book – so now I just have to let them lead the story. And after reading the last one, the reader already *knows* all the background – that means I can jump right into the action! (And the romance! wink wink ;-)
And perhaps this is partially just the nature of the book I’ve written. In Stitch, both the characters and the readers don’t know what’s really going on for more than half the book. There are hints, of course, but it was difficult to really get the story going until everyone was up to speed, and I didn’t want to rush that part of the story. Stitch lulls you into a sense of comfort, into a familiar place and storyline that you think you might have seen elsewhere – and just when you think you’re starting to figure it out, it dumps everything on its head. That was something I’d rarely experienced as a reader, so it was a big part of the appeal for me as a writer – and I didn’t want to sacrifice the surprise by revealing the twist too soon.
So as a result, the beginning half of Stitch is admittedly slow. The book really hits it groove as the twist is revealed and we move into the climax, and the last 30% or so of the story moves FAST – most readers have told me that from that point on, they simply couldn’t put it down. But then, unfortunately, the first part of the story comes to an end.
The good thing is that this has allowed me to pick up Book 2 exactly where we left off. Without giving away too much, in the first 10 chapters of Shudder there’s a blizzard, an execution, multiple attacks from unknown superhuman creatures, a steamy romance scene, exploration of a post-apocalyptic suburb, introductions of two mystery characters, the surprise comeback of a fan favorite from Book 1 (Nikhil), and lots of revelations about the history of this world, the motivations of the antagonists, and how the characters came to be involved in the plot. In short, the story is MOVING – and I’m loving it.
It’s really an amazing thing to be able to dive right in and give readers exactly what they want without hesitation. And to me, this is what sequels will always be about. Not “filler,” but fulfillment – bringing the characters and the plot and the setting full circle and creating an authentic experience for the reader.
So faithful readers, I’m plugging away at Book 2, and I think you’ll be happy with the result. Now I just need to figure out what I’m going to do about Book 3…
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